Baby crazy, sort of

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2006

I want a baby!

I want one so bad sometimes I’m tempted to go out and try to buy one. I’ve even got a name picked out, but I’m not telling because I don’t want someone else to use it.

I want something cute and cuddly that will grow up to obey and protect me. She should have long hair, and as much as I’ll love her, she won’t be allowed to sleep in my bed.

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I just need to get a bigger place first.

After all, I’m sure a German shepherd, golden retriever or yellow lab would get a little claustrophobic in our two-bedroom apartment.

Yep, I’m talking about a dog. You probably saw it coming.

But I imagine the yearning I feel for one is similar to when other women get baby-crazy (for little humans, I mean).

I grew up with animals, mostly German shepherds, but we had our fair share of cats and hamsters. Now that I’m married and have a place of my own, I want a dog of my own.

My cat, Ezzard Charles, tries to fill the void. She is cuddly and has long, black hair. With her huge green eyes, she’s closer to beautiful than cute.

She taught herself how to play fetch and convinced us that, even though she is indeed a cat, she truly wants to have a pom-pom or stuffed mouse tossed repeatedly through the apartment.

The only problem is, she reserves this game for the middle of the night. I blame my husband. When Ezzard lived with him for a year or so before we got married, he indulged her when she would paw at his leg until he woke up, then drop her toy at his feet.

Entertaining as she is, I just can’t shake the desire for a dog. I think it stems, in part, from missing Rhett, the little brother I never had.

He’s my family’s cocker spaniel mix.

Short and soft, he likes to sit n upright n in my lap. He prefers to sleep in a bed (whoever will let him) with his head on the pillow. He barks like a madman, ‘er, dog, when the doorbell rings, but hides under the bed when someone starts the toaster or a shotgun fires in the forest behind the house.

He has a fairly good singing voice, and will howl along if you belt out a tune, usually trying to outdo you.

Rhett has some slight neurological damage from when he was hit by a car about five years ago and nearly died. He tends to whimper a lot for no reason, which can irritate my parents and youngest sister, who take care of him.

He’s beside himself when I go home for visits because he knows I’m the one who gives him extra attention and extra treats. He’ll even start to cry when he hears my voice on the speaker phone.

It breaks my heart. I call home sometimes just to see how he is doing.

But I’m a huge softie when it comes to just about any kind of creature. I can’t stand to see them hurt, even the ones I’m afraid of. I’ll scoop up spiders in a Tupperware container and stick them back outside (I realize they’ll likely find their way back in, but at least I can say I didn’t kill it.

My parents’ house is in the country, so they tend to have a few mice dart across the living room every now and then. Mom finally had to empty the drawer beneath the oven because it had turned into a mouse menagerie.

I came home late one night and heard a scratching sound, followed by light clanking coming from the vicinity of the stove. Since I was know longer living at home, I’d forgotten that drawer was a death camp for mice.

I tiptoed over to it, with Rhett closely at my side. I carefully opened the drawer and we both peeked in. The commotion of the poor little creature thrashing around n it was caught only by the tip of its tail n made Rhett jump back, trembling.

He watched me closely, silently, while I used some utensils to pry open the trap so the mouse could escape back to the bowels under the stove. Then he trotted off to the bedroom so he could beat me to the good side n and pillow n of my bed.